Hawks arrest 5 at OR Tambo for drug trafficking
The suspects are believed to be part of a 'highly coordinated' international operation. They will appear in court on Friday.
The suspects arrested at OR Tambo International Airport are believed to be linked to others arrested in Australia. Picture: Gallo Images/The Times/Alon Skuy
Five suspects were arrested by the Hawks at OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday morning on allegations of drug trafficking, contravention of the Civil Aviation Act and contravention of the Customs and Excise Act.
This after a large drug consignment was recently confiscated in Australia and two suspects were arrested. Spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said the international operation was “highly coordinated”.
“This is subsequent to an intelligence-driven operation by the Hawks Serious Organised Crime Investigation following allegations that these suspects are employees of various companies at [the airport] where they are said to be facilitating the thoroughfare of drugs coming into and out of the airport,” Mogale said.
“Two suspects employed by ACSA—two suspects from Menzies Aviation and one from Swissport—were arrested as a result.”
The group will be appearing in the Kempton Park Magistrates Court on Friday, November 17. This is a first operation of its kind in relation to transnational drug trafficking perpetrated through OR Tambo, where a drug seizure made abroad was positively linked to suspects in South Africa for their complicity.
The Provincial Head of the Hawks in Gauteng, Major General Ebrahim Kadwa, applauded the joint investigation team for their concerted effort in ridding the airport of “unsavoury characters tarnishing the name” of the airport and South Africa.
“The Hawks is totally committed to countering drug trafficking and would like to send a strong message to corrupt officials in such companies to not get involved in facilitating such illicit activities,” Mogale concluded.
The week before, the Hawks recovered R50 million worth of copper in Pretoria.
The Hawks raided the suspect’s property in Booysens after receiving information about a syndicate allegedly involved in criminal activities, including dealing and selling copper.
Police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Noloyiso Rwexana, said the man claimed he bought the copper at an auction in Bloemfontein.
“The suspect produced a second-hand goods dealer permit claiming he is authorised to deal in copper,” said Rwexana.
“The suspect was informed that he needs to be in possession of a certificate allowing him to possess copper as per Criminal Matters Amendment Act 18 of 2015.”